Seattle to Santa Barbara: Part 1- Oregon Coast

February 8-13

We got a late start on the 8th. Hoping to have left town by late morning, our plans got held up by one thing or another, and we set out around 2pm. I punched in a campground we were hoping to get to in Oregon, but immediately knew that was out of the question. A tractor trailer had rolled over on I-5 along our route, and detours made our trip a couple hours longer.

Have a plan, but be flexible.

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April, in a nutshell.

My apologies as we’ve gotten away from our usual ~2 week blog post drop. Things have been busy, lots of moving parts, as we enjoy our last month here in the American Southwest and plan for the next location.

But let’s get to it.

The Mogollon Rim makes up the southern escarpment of the Colorado Plateau, and spans much of northern and northeast Arizona and into New Mexico. Its a dramatic climb from 4-5,000 feet above sea level up to around 7-8,000 ft. Tall stands of pine blanket the area, a sight seemingly surprising to those not familiar with the varied geographies of the 48th state.

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Little trips, big adventures

February 19-March 12

Over the next week or so, Jamie Charley and I spent most of our time working (or going to daycare) and doing local things in the valley. We did a couple evening hikes, both in the Superstitions and at South Mountain, checked out a gym offering a free month membership to healthcare workers, ran the nearby trails and roads, and grabbed dinner with our friends Maggie and Brandon. We kept busy, but didn’t make any trips out of town.

We’d picked out a camping spot near Roosevelt Lake for Monday the 27th, about a 2 hour’s drive northeast of Phoenix. Taking an off-road route about 30 miles through the Four Peaks Wilderness, we passed countless mounds of crumbled rock, hundreds of feet high, and broken saguaros, ripped apart by the aridity and baking in the relentless sunshine. We skirted the trailhead for Brown’s Peak, the tallest of the Four Peaks that make up the Valley’s eastern horizon.

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Settling in, getting out

January 22- February 7

After unloading the car at our new home, a process that now takes maybe an hour at most, we picked up dinner and drove over to Kaivan’s to visit. He’d done a cross country road trip back west after spending a couple months in Binghamton in the fall and we hadn’t seen him since early September when we left New York. It was nice to catch up, though Charley was a bit confused as to why Uncle Kaivan was here in Arizona and not in New York.

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Tahoe

January 11 – 15

The day had come to leave our lovely little abode. It’s always sad to leave when our contracts are up, but I found Santa Barbara to be especially difficult to leave.

“Why the hell are we leaving?!” Jamie and I would ask each other. The hospital had offered to extend our contracts a while back, but we declined, as we were already set on heading to Arizona. It was a special time in SB, but eventually it had to end. 

We packed up our car in typical Tetris fashion, sure to leave ample space for Queen Charley’s throne in the back seat, complete with a bed and only the softest and comfiest blankets.

So Monday morning, when all the preparations were set, we punched Lake Tahoe (specifically, Stateline, NV) into the GPS and left Santa Barbara in our rearview.

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That’s a wrap!

December 31 2020 -January 11 2021

To ring in the new year, Jamie and I worked three consecutive shifts again. Hopeful that COVID would magically disappear with the end of 2020, we were left disappointed, as case numbers continued to rise while bed numbers shrank. A dull hum of baseline stress seeped into the entirety of each day at work, as it seemed inevitable things would unravel more. 

Selfishly, we could not wait for our two week break from work at the end of our contract. I think we both started to feel burnt out, and I had to keep reminding myself that what we were seeing on a daily basis was not normal, because we were getting so used to it.

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Moab to Strawberry- the penultimate segment.

Leaving Moab was bittersweet. We were excited to reach our destination after 2 weeks of constant “go-bag” living, but sad to leave such a beautiful place. Gas for the car, coffee for our bodies, and onward we pushed. Our route would take us just under 400 miles SSW through Monument Valley, across the Arizona border and into the mountains of Tonto National Forest and Strawberry, Arizona.

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The gang does Utah

The La Sal Mountains lie about 20 miles ESE from Moab valley, rising around 13,000 ft above sea level. Stillness and wonder accompanied us as we took in the snowcapped background to Moab’s rusted canyons. This stillness would become the principal realization of our stay in Moab. The Colorado river turned and wagged back and forth through the canyons, and provided our introduction into the heart of the desert as we cruised alongside it on a state highway toward our first hike of the stay in Utah.

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